quick wildflower farm update

Inside the hoop house – zinnias and lisianthus and more!

🎈UPDATE 🎈 the neighbors on Castlebar against Wildflower Farm in Willistown apparently had their zoning appeal tossed by zoning last evening. I am told the phrase used was “lack of jurisdiction” to hear their appeal.

Wildflower Farm will be back in front of zoning in a few weeks.

Snapdragons. They just remind me of childhood, because it was
one of the first flowers I ever grew.


I will also note that not all neighbors on and adjacent to that street are against the farm. I think that is an important distinction not always noted. Also important to note is that not all of the “neighbors“ who have been involved with these zoning challenges of Wildflower Farm actually physically live on Castlebar Lane. That is a matter of public record, isn’t it?

I could look at this view all day!


And I am stating for the record that I am not the spokesperson of the Heenan family or their attorneys which is the latest rumor being spread. I am a friend of the Heenans, have a brain in my head, a legal right to express how I feel about this issue, and am an occasional customer of their farm. I am also a gardener, so I appreciate their efforts to rejuvenate their farm which frankly needed cleaning up, and their interest in flowers and trees and native plants and bee-keeping.

This Wildflower Farm property is zoned agricultural, BUT truthfully they could have IGNORED all that and built a giant McMansion when they purchased it. But instead they opted to restore the house and the barn and bring a viable adaptive reuse to existing farmland.

The restored barn and hoop house


The Heenans should have been welcomed into their neighborhood, yet they have been treated most poorly by some. For the record I happen to live on a cul-de-sac, and if this farm was on my street I would be unbelievably happy.


I think Willistown folk and other related people interested in this topic that it is really great that you are interested in supporting Wildflower Farm through this process and please continue.


🌸🐝Flowers bring happiness. We know, it’s why we garden.🌸🐝


I am using some of my photos of the farm taken last week, and I am also sharing a photo of the Radnor Hunt which does go through their property sometimes. Not all property owners allow the hunt to pass through any longer.

#SupportSmallFarms

May be an image of horse and outdoors
Radnor Hunt passing through. So cool!!!

this is wildflower farm

I broke the story yesterday about Wildflower Farm and I’m going to keep talking about it.

I was there today visiting (I was a guest in their home, nosy neighbors) and for 25 min a guy in a dark SUV drove back-and-forth in front of their farm to see who was sitting on their patio. I finally waved at him and called hello (loudly) and he went away. I guess a middle-aged white woman sitting on someone’s patio as a guest drinking a sparkling water is a threat?

Can I tell you how BEAUTIFUL and serene and peaceful Wildflower Farm is in spite of their neighbors? I walked through their magical woods and walked every outside row and every hoop house row of flowers. I am a gardener, I was in heaven. And their trees are awesome. Including things like native redbuds and Japanese maples that they have planted. I can also envision their fields alive with peonies and hydrangeas, too.

We talked gardening. I shared my gardening resources for bulbs and native plants. I also shared with them Chester County farms also that are small producing farms. Why? Because those farms and farmers are embraced by their neighbors, not absurdly reviled.


The majority of the neighbors on this street where they live have that extra special development mentality that I abhor. They sure are the types who should be living in a Stepford Wife Toll Brothers or similar development where everything is samey-samey cookie cutter and they can’t plant flowers, but the petty tyrants of homeowner associations reign supreme.

Wildflower Farm is zoned to be a farm. They aren’t throwing raucous parties 24 /7 they are a young family with two beautiful children who have a dream to have a farm and grow flowers.

They are an organic farm.

And what I saw today with the person in the SUV driving back-and-forth and back-and-forth and back-and-forth with my own eyes, they are experiencing harassment and must feel as if they are constantly under siege.

If someone chooses to live differently or simply, these pig-ignorant types of people find fault with it. It’s literally heart breaking that they cannot see the beauty here through the trees. But it’s like a blood sport to play whisper down the lane and to gossip inaccurately and cruelly about this young family? That’s Christian, God-fearing behavior?

The people who live in this neighborhood on Castlebar Lane where poor small farm is located are not all bad. But the majority of them seem so off the hook unpleasant in my opinion, it takes your breath away. I don’t understand how these people can do any of this with a clear conscience? They trespass on their property, they fly drones overhead to try to say they’re doing something wrong and they’re not, and for what? What do they gain?

A friend of mine (who lives on a farm) said to me that they don’t get these people who want everything big box and cookie cutter.

Take the neighbor on one side? Building this giant berm so they don’t have to look at them which is something that is so ludicrous to me because if I lived next-door I would want a clear view so I could see what flowers they were growing! They have totally cleaned up this property it’s beautiful, and it has the most gorgeous woods. You look at it and it makes you think like this is what Chester County is supposed to be.


What is happening to these people is literally insane. And the fact that one of the people giving them a hard time and filing zoning things and other stuff is on the planning commission in Willistown Township just blows my mind and then there’s the other people who have lots (as in empty lots of land) on the road but don’t actually live there who have been big for years with the Willistown Conservation Trust? And if you go through publications of the Willistown Conservation Trust you see other names also in this bizarre NIMBY situation? I don’t understand these people apparently farms are OK just not in their neighborhood but it’s zoned agricultural, it’s not just a residential area so I really don’t understand the pretzel logic? (And FYI the candidate for Willistown Supervisor who seems to be doing a lot of promising including helping their horrid neighbors? Remember THAT at the polls. Those who over-promise to everyone, never deliver but that is a separate conversation.)


Wildflower Farm deserves ALL of our support. They are up in front of zoning next week and Willistown and I have posted about it it is a public meeting and if you’re not a resident you don’t have standing so you won’t be speaking but you can go and support in solidarity. Especially if you are a FARMER.

The Willistown Township Zoning Hearing Board will meet on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. Sugartown Elementary School – Gymnasium 611 Sugartown Road, Malvern, PA 19355

The Heenans are the people we want as neighbors in Chester County, and in a time where every square inch is developed they are farming and growing wildflowers and are into native plants.

Willistown also has a regular supervisors meeting on October 11 at 7 PM which is also a public meeting. Charles E. Coxe Memorial Campus. 688 Sugartown Road, Malvern, PA 19355


Please lend these nice people your support. Supporting farmers benefits all of us. Their dreams should not die because they have the biggest bunch of jerky Stepford village neighbors ever created. NIMBY anti-farm hell. Petty tyrants. And that opinion is allowed.


Also they have a petition. Sign the petition please, but also please consider attending the zoning meeting, especially.

#PayItForward

#SaveSmallFarms

#MeanPeopleSuck

#ShopSmall

#SupportSmallBusinesses

I would also say in the short term to think twice about donating to Willistown Conservation Trust. If these neighbors are the kind of people supporting them I don’t know about you but you really want to be around them? But I would encourage you to support Natural Lands, of course.

I love flowers. I love farms. I love nice people. So you know I am Team Wildflower Farm, are you?

#HateHasNoHomeHere #TeamWildflowerFarm

the strange tale of wildflower farm: in willistown when is a farm not ok to be a farm?

I took this photo recently at Life’s Patina where Wildflower Farm was part of an event there. I was super impressed by them and their flowers.

This is a strange tale of really surprisingly unpleasant and in my opinion oddly not neighborly folks. That being said, since they seem to be the litigious types, nothing here is not either a photo taken on a public road, photos of the farm I am writing about OR public information. Oh and that lovely thing called the First Amendment.

This is the strangest case of bad NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard).

This is a case of life is short, can’t we (literally) just enjoy the flowers and get along?

So how did I become aware of this? Recently someone said to me, have you seen the local zoning notices lately? And I said nooo….because your eyes can cross and glaze over if you read too many (just kidding but it’s dry stuff.)

Well then blow me over, one was about a local small farm…and most shocking, located in Willistown Township, supposedly the land of happy open space and farm loving people. So dear readers, I think I stumbled upon a case of those who shall we say perhaps move out here for the bucolic vistas and “country”, but oh hell no, put that farm someplace else?

What am I talking about?? THIS:

Yes, I have been having some OMG moments over this. You see, I live in a nice neighborhood with nice neighbors. My friends live in nice neighborhoods with nice neighbors, but Willistown? One of the prettiest place in Chester County and it seems to be plagued by these bizarre occurrences of late? There was that whole thing of ruffled feathers over chickens, and then there was the political candidate who couldn’t seem to behave at a public meeting where she wishes to become queen and reign, and now this? These nice people not only sell their flowers, they believe in farming organically, and educating people. It’s an entire desirable package and a pretty little farm.

So they are talking about Wildflower Farm. As in they grow Wildflowers organically. As in they are this super nice, charming, lovely young couple with two adorable little kids, a golden retriever, etc.?

Yes, completely WTF.

These neighbors in my humble opinion (which I am allowed to have), seem literally hell bent for leather in driving them out of town. And why? And when you read that zoning notice you want to rub your eyes because of a couple of the names that pop right out.

Again, public information sourced from Willistown Conservation Trust website and Willistown Township Website. And if you go into the Willistown Conservation Trust reports of donations, etc., some of the other names pop up.

So explain to me how these champions of community involvement and dare I say it, conservation have problems with an organic FLOWER FARM???

When did everyone get so mean in beautiful Willistown????

But it doesn’t stop with the legalities of a zoning challenge, does it? Nope, nope, nope. How about trespassing? Poison pen letters? Blocking the farm’s driveway so people can’t enter? Flying drones over their property?

OK class can you all say “WTF” now?

Poison Pen Letter Envelope
Did this car break down? Is that why it’s blocking a fellow neighbor’s driveway?

I have seen videos of trespassing. But that is not my tale to tell. But I guarantee you Willistown Township has seen and probably has those videos. Along with the mysterious drone video output, correct?

And speaking of Willistown Township, I feel sorry for the township. I am sure they don’t want this and when did it become the purview of municipalities to have to babysit neighbors with wild hairs up their rears?

This is not quite the haves vs. the have nots, but the haves are a wee bit unbelievable with their let them eat cake, no farms in our back yard NIMBY scenario, correct?

And here is the narrative submitted recently to Willistown by Wildflower Farm:

This is all so very, very ugly. Is this what we as a society have become? Instead of TALKING with our neighbors, people just harass, harangue, and sue our neighbors? And then sometimes people wonder why other people just sell out to developers and walk away?

I just don’t understand how this is happening in Willistown Township. This is one of the most farmer friendly, farm friendly places. Yet these people seem to be (as I said before) hell bent for leather on destroying the lives of the owners of Wildflower Farm?

WHY????? These are NICE people. Thoughtful people. Small farm, organic farmers. You know the future we WANT for Chester County? Farms are disappearing by the day, this is the stuff that makes quality people NOT wish to move into communities, buy farms, preserve land.

These neighbors won’t like my opinions, but they put this out there in the public viewshed like bad Karma waiting to explode, and you know me and my love and respect for farm owners, farmers, and what Chester County used to be about. And I wish they would reconsider their path. This ugliness taints communities. It is so unnecessary. And Willistown? Don’t they need to stand up for small farmers AND large landholders, right?

No drama intended, I fear for this young family at Wildflower Farm.

That being said, what can you do?

(1) Support the farm (here is their website.)

(2) Read up on the ACRE Law because you have to wonder if these residents wish their township to violate that?

(3) Sign and forward their petition.

(4) If you are a resident of Willistown or a fellow local farmer or a customer or just a lover of organic Wildflowers, show up for the Heenan family at the upcoming zoning meeting: Willistown Township Zoning Hearing Board will meet on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, at 7:00 p.m., at Sugartown Elementary School, 611 Sugartown Road, Malvern, Willistown Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

That’s it, this is all I have got. I just think this whole scenario is wrong. I am shocked and saddened that these adults have gone all Lord of The Flies, Rambo, whatever on a young family farming the right way and adding positively to the community.

Please pay it forward and politely and calmly support this family, this farm, their business.

#SaveSmallFarms #BeAGoodNeighbor #ShopLocal #SupportSmall #MeanPeopleSuck

life and b.s.

Right at the beginning of June, I invited some friends who had been around at a very difficult time in my life to go on a special tour of David Culp’s gardens at Brandywine Cottage in Downingtown. It was a thank you and a celebration of an important personal milestone: being 10 years breast cancer free. June 1, 2011 to June 1, 2021.

If you know women who have had breast cancer, each year we get extra is a blessing. Milestones like this are extremely important to mark, and I wanted to say thank you to some of these ladies, most of whom I have known since high school.

It was also another celebration and milestone. This also marked all of us finally being able to get together because of COVID-19 and we all finally had our shots. The ladies who came with me like to garden.

Pete Bannan photo 2011

One of the friends was Caroline O’Halloran who is the creator and chief writer at Savvy Main Line. She was with me and some other friends on Tuesday, July 13th, 2011 when I rang the bell at Lankenau Hospital where I had that morning finished up a few weeks of fairly grueling radiation treatment with Dr. Marisa Weiss.

When it was all over and I rang the special bell signifying the end of treatment, my friends cheered. A hospital administrator chided us for being too loud. (It was pretty funny.)

At the end of the day, I am very much alive with a terrific prognosis for a long and happy life. I am one of the lucky ones. I have lost friends to cancer including breast over the past decade, so I learned to stop and breathe and celebrate the milestones.

For a decade now I have been part of the sisterhood – women of different races, ethnicities, ages, sizes and shapes –forever bound together by this disease. It’s like the club no one asks to join. And you damn well celebrate the little victories.

I chose a garden tour.

I also invited someone whom I am pleased to call a friend for the past few years, who wasn’t with me that day. She just happens to be a woman I like and appreciate. You all know her as a Chester County Commissioner – Michelle Kichline. We have a lot of friends in common and have for years and years, and we share common interests like the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust and a love for gardening.

Caroline wrote about the visit to David’s amazing gardens on her website a few weeks after the visit. It just happened because he and his gardens inspired her and struck a chord. Of course that doesn’t surprise me because David’s book The Layered Garden has been a huge influence on me personally. When I read his book it was like I had this epiphany that someone who really is a plantsman and horticulturalist gets how I like to garden. I don’t even know what printing the book is on, but it is really special.

Michelle posted the article on her page a couple of weeks ago. She also included how she loved the gardens and what a fun and just nice day it was. It’s true, it was just nice. I thought that was super sweet of her, and I was happy to have her with us.

But as is the case with social media, up rolls a jerk:

I have been called many things in my life, but “rich white people” has never been one of them. But apparently, we are all a bunch of “rich white people” who have an “eye” for horticulture according to this….well….a random white guy.

Are we to surmise that random white guy must have a political axe to grind with Michelle for whatever reason, and is also a garden critic? Ok he doesn’t have to like the garden, but his vitriol was unnecessary and unwarranted.

We all like to garden. David opened his private home garden to us on a very special anniversary for me. This day was a big deal to me. Michelle is allowed to NOT be a politician once in a while and just enjoy girl time.

I think we need to hit the pause button. We have come through 2020 into 2021 and a lot of us still have friends on both sides of the political aisle and that is ok. And that is what that snotful comment on Michelle’s page was about: politics. I don’t know what, and I don’t know why, and don’t care. WHY? Because all she was doing was sharing something nice.

I am a gardener. I love to garden. And random white guy? I do my own gardening and I earn my own money to pay for my gardening. I am hardly some heiress with a fainting couch. I even cook and clean and take out the trash.

Truthfully this is why I don’t share cool experiences on this blog sometimes like seeing David Culp’s garden. So instead a friend shares what another friend wrote about just a lovely day and we are suddenly bad people? That’s just wrong. And I say that as someone who can and does take politicians to task. But there is a time and a place for everything, and being a dick about someone talking about a nice visit to a special garden is not one of them.

But hey what do I know right? I am just a mere mortal and a female, and these are obviously just the rantings of a suburban housewife.

Cheers!

pickling peppers…and tomatoes

I just put up some peppers because I’ve been growing a bunch of different chili peppers all summer.

This is the base recipe I used from A Taste of Home.

You know I can never do a recipe straight, so I will let you know that to my brine I added pickling spice and dill. And a little red pepper flakes because I want hot peppers. I processed them in a hot water bath and I had brine left over for five small jars of pickled tomatoes. I just used the same brine but threw in dill and basil into each jar for the tomatoes.

I don’t know how everything will taste when everything is all pickled up, but I can tell you the brine smelled awesome.

Of course I didn’t pay attention while handling my chili peppers and my hands feel slightly as if they are on fire and I won’t be touching my face anytime soon.

Something I did not expect this year is how much canning supplies have gone up in price since COVID-19 came to visit. We have paid a premium for so much for so many months. But I am guessing that a lot of people are almost homesteading because we’re all home so much more.

I may do more pickled tomatoes as it gets in to fall but I have to decide if I am making apple butter or some kind of a jam this year. Ideally I would like to do fig preserves but I don’t know if any of my friends will have extra figs I can buy from them yet, or if I will be able to source them locally at a farmers market.

When you pickle things they look so lovely in the jar. I know that sounds weird but they just look nice.

Happy Sunday all!

east whiteland have you been over to flat road lately?

Reader submitted photo

3:30 PM UPDATE: From the chair of the East Whiteland Supervisors Scott Lambert (who like many others is having a hard time posting to Facebook today):

📌The original requirement of the builder was to renovate portions of the wall that had fallen in disrepair and remove a few trees that could endanger the wall in the future. However,with the wall now
leaning badly and in danger of collapse, the builder agreed to rework the wall and replace broken sections to return it to original condition. As with the initial work review the descendants of people buried in the cemetery were consulted as was our engineer and historical commission representation. An agreement with the contractor concerning the scope of the work was also executed.📌

EARLIER:

There is a historic cemetery on Flat Road. It seems to be in peril. East Whiteland Township approved a development plan there and wasn’t one of the things supposed to be that this cemetery (which I believe is Amish) would be protected?

Social Media post that appeared with photos

I don’t have the answers. And someone said well maybe they’re doing work on it. And this doesn’t look like work to me this looks like a wall collapse. A lot of these walls do collapse and I saw one not that long ago at a church in Upper Uwchlan and then they rebuilt the wall. When they rebuilt the wall then you could see they were telling people to stay away from it and using caution tape until it was set.

Reader submitted photo

The other thing to consider is a development is being built next door and vibrations from heavy equipment can affect old structures and that includes walls and headstones etc. doesn’t it?

Reader submitted photo

I don’t have the answers, but I do know that East Whiteland needs to go look at this. This is literally a historic site, and it matters. #thisplacematters

Reader submitted photo

Walls fall down. But this is a historic site. So again, something needs to be done sooner rather than later. This is a sacred place. And our historic sites should be as respected as much by municipalities as the developments they constantly approve.

Stay cool it’s so darn hot out there.

Reader submitted photo

PS: I am adding more photos here at the bottom that were just sent to me by concerned residents!

facebook and censorship…. as in is facebook practicing censorship?

Yes (and unbelievably), Facebook is removing my gardening blog posts.

As my readers know I also write a gardening blog called the nightgown gardener. I started that blog because my readers asked me to have a blog just about gardening. I don’t make money off of it, I don’t get special favors because of it, it’s just writing about gardening. Like this blog I pay for it to be ad free.

As my readers know gardening is a passion of mine. So I share my knowledge and my tips and my sources and my resources and photos of my actual garden on this blog.

The times we live in gardening is a happy thing. It brings you closer to the earth, it brings you peace of mind , it lets you express yourself artistically and even grow your own food. and I have been sharing my garden rating since I started doing it both on this blog and my gardening specific blog.

Writing about gardening is not controversial it’s nice. And we need more nice in this world. So why on earth is Facebook censoring me? I don’t have the answer to that question but they are censoring me. For some unknown reason, starting yesterday, they started REMOVING and BANNING anything I had written about GARDENING.

Meanwhile Facebook allows cybercrimes to occur daily like cyber stalking and cyber harassment and fake news and heck even porn to pollute it. They allow racist propaganda and all sorts of other nasty things that you can think of yet they ban happy things like writing about gardening?

It makes NO sense. I am not a monetized blogger I don’t even promote my blog post with Facebook ads. I just share what I’m doing in my garden on my garden blog . And somehow that is a bad thing?

Facebook and their algorithms are all sorts of screwed up. And there is no one you can contact or talk to about this. Well I’m not taking this line down.

Their algorithms are actually in fact practicing censorship, then they need a serious makeover.

Mark Zuckerberg I know you won’t be reading my blog because you don’t care about anything other than all the money you are making, but you should you say you wanna make the world a better place and gardening is one of those things that accomplishes that.

Facebook is wrong here. They had this issue in March.

Yes, in Facebook’s fakakta wisdom, sharing about gardening is bad. Maybe they should fix their algorithms and “weed” out the bugs.

#EpicFail #FacebookHatesGardening #FacebookHatesGardeners

Below are posts Facebook removed. Please give them a read and I’m curious if you all think they go against “community standards“?

this and that

facebook hates gardeners now?

frost report

wandering the garden

welcome to my homeless plant encampment

Of course part of me wonders if Facebook has a problem with WordPress all of a sudden? At the end of the day I don’t really care why it’s happening I only know it shouldn’t be happening. Gardening and cooking are happy things in a world that is filled with COVID-19 nastiness right now.

Here’s hoping Facebook gets their act together.

pickling and canning and preserving or…what to do with green tomatoes.

I realized the other day that I had a lot of green tomatoes. My inner gardener knows they aren’t going to ripen in time. So this morning I harvested them.

I washed all of the green tomatoes and also harvested what was left of my chili peppers.

I then sorted them by size.

Meanwhile, I sterilized my canning jars.

Then I prepared the brine for the pickled tomatoes.

The brine wasn’t particularly complicated. It was pickling salt, pickling spices, extra mustard seed, a little bit of sugar, white vinegar, and water. I brought it up and left it on a low simmer.

Meanwhile I put a little bunch of fresh dill, a garlic clove, and some onion pieces in the base of each jar. To that I added the smaller tomatoes and the cherry tomatoes. And every jar also got a few chunks of cut up chili peppers.

The smaller tomatoes I either halved or quartered depending on the size, and the cherry tomatoes each got pierced from end to end like they were going to go on a skewer so the pickling brine is absorbed into them.

I ladled hot brine on top of each jar of green tomatoes. On top of that I laid another sprig of fresh dill and one more clove of garlic.

I then put the lids on the jars and placed them in a hot water bath for 14 minutes. The pickled tomatoes are now cooling on a table. When they are completely cool I will tighten down the lids and store them where I store other preserves in the basement.

Next comes the green tomato chutney. The brine pickling liquid that I use for this is comprised of a couple of cups of malt vinegar, pickling salt (but not much like a teaspoon and a half), 1 cup of sugar, cinnamon, a few tablespoons of diced crystallized ginger, nutmeg, a couple of tablespoons of mustard seed, a tablespoon of pickling spice, and allspice. To make it slightly different I also grated the rind of two limes I had and also added their juice.

I put that on low so the sugar dissolved add to that I added probably about 5 pounds of chopped green tomatoes, the remaining few chili peppers chopped up, five chopped fresh plums I had leftover, three chopped apples, one diced onion, I also added a little chopped fresh fennel I found had sprouted up in the garden because the chutney recipe calls for fennel seeds and I didn’t have any. Also, I added a little over a cup of golden yellow raisins as well. If I had had the green raisins I use with curry I would have added those as well.

I cooked the chutney down for about an hour maybe a little more, and then sterilized some more jars. I filled the chutney jars gave them their hot water bath and now they are cooling on the counter.

I still have green tomatoes left over unbelievably! I am guessing fried green tomatoes are in my future at some point.

I will note that I use the pickling salt for both the pickled tomatoes and the chutney because it keeps things from getting cloudy.

Happy Friday!